Fiddy’s plan to feed a billion kids is admirable, who can possibly object to feeding the hungry? It’s great to see him use his star power for a positive force like that, so in no way is this intended as a knock on his actions. That being said, there are definitely questions worthy of being raised concerning this project.
Of course Curtis and this energy drink manufacturer are building a brand, this is a marketing campaign to convince you to give the drink a try. It’s brilliant marketing too, long after the ‘feed a billion’ campaign is over people will still feel good about themselves when they drink it because they’re reminded about something they did for people in need simultaneously. It also gives the company a friendly face without seeming like ‘hippies,’ through the combined efforts of charity and Fif’s street image. You could rightly make moral objections to using people’s poverty as a tool in your marketing plan, but in the end it would be a point made from a position of luxury. I’m pretty sure that when your stomach has been growling for longer than you care to remember you won’t make many moral objections to a free meal. Furthermore, many multinationals have a history of profiting from poverty without giving anything back in the first place, so this at least seems like a better kind of enterpreneuring than that.
There’s a moral obligation to help out regions of the world struck by famine, if you have any lingering doubts about it I’d like to direct you to the charts pictured here, which are taken from the Environmental Protection Agency and United Nations Environment Programme websites.
The amount of food the world produces which goes unconsumed is staggering, especially in the US and Europe. In the US it is actually the second biggest contributor to the overall output of waste, with only paper ahead of it, of which a large amount gets recycled. How people can still be hungry when so much food is simply thrown away boggles the mind, but it’s the reality we live in. We need to supply emergency rations when they’re needed and Fif is working to do just that.
What’s problematic about this form of aid is what comes after it. Which is often nothing. When the billion people Curtis Jackson and his energy drinks are aiming to feed have received their free meal what’s stopping them from going hungry again? The western world has heaped (emergency) aid upon struggling nations for decades now, which has resulted in the growth of an entire industry of organizations providing that help and nations that have come to depend on it. Said organizations should be working to make themselves obsolete and those countries should aspire to eventually stand on their own legs. But it doesn’t happen that way. We keep going from emergency to emergency but rarely build any infrastructure preventing those emergencies. It’s the old adage of giving a man a fishing rod or a fish. After sending our fish to so-called third world countries for over fifty years are we ready to finally allow them some fishing rods of their own?
The African continent is rife with raw materials in high demand by industries all over the world. A whopping 80% of the world’s Coltan for instance, is in Africa, most of it in the mines of Congo. It has become the blood diamond of the 21st century:
Coltan has become one of the world’s most sought-after materials because it is used to create tantalum, a key ingredient in electronic circuitry. The global tantalum capacitor market is worth about $2-billion (U.S.) annually. You’ll find them in computers, cell phones, home appliances and myriad other electronic goods.
Congo is potentially the richest country in the world with mines litterally worth trillions. But they’re all exploited by local warlords who apparently find little trouble in contacting tech companies to do business with them. So while well-intending people send out spare change to charities to help them with providing emergency help our companies simultaneously rob them of their biggest riches. We demand import taxes being paid on goods third world countries export to us but do anything within the realm of possibilities to sell them our stuff. Shell Oil Company sends in experts from all over the world to efficiently take the oil from Nigeria but how many local experts do they train to take the riches from their soil? Global trading business Trafigura dumped toxic waste in the streets of Ivory Coast because that was cheaper than having it properly disposed of by an authorized company in The Netherlands that was already set to take it off their hands when the container ship sailed into Amsterdam. People died horrific deaths because it turned out to be cheaper to get out of Amsterdam and sail on to Africa to unload it into the city sewers of Abijan. These are specific examples of a business attitude employed on an even larger scale for hundreds of years now and unless we change that no amount of emergency will ever change a single thing in the grand scheme of things.
Third world aid should not be necessary. The developing countries need basic human rights, access to education and fair trade with the western world. If we’re ready to level the playing field and deal with countries outside of the ‘first world’ on the same terms we use when dealing with those within it then we might truly make aid obsolete. If our governments and multinational corporations would allow that to happen we might see more economic competitors arise but we would no doubt be competing with them in a better world. Until that time we’ll be forced to help out in the face of tragedy and bide our time with our many ill-begotten gains until the next inevitable tragedy follows.
50 Cent – Street King Energy Track #8